A Step Back in Time


Asian Geographic - - On Assignment - Alex Camp­bell

The Purvis Street area is rich in his­tory, a for­mer hub for Hainanese im­mi­grants who ar­rived in Sin­ga­pore in the mid-1800s. Orig­i­nally traders, the Hainanese even­tu­ally set­tled in this area, and the mi­grant com­mu­nity bur­geoned. They were par­tic­u­larly well-known for their for­ays into the hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness, first work­ing in, and then open­ing, their own ho­tels, restau­rants, bak­eries, and cof­fee shops – which led to the Hainanese be­ing cred­ited with the in­tro­duc­tion of ko­pi­tiam cul­ture.

It is one such for­mer bak­ery that now houses the re­fur­bished and apt­ly­named Ho­tel Nuve Her­itage, a bou­tique ho­tel that has re­tained its his­toric legacy and sense of lo­cal cul­ture with the ad­di­tions of mod­ern lux­u­ries. Built in 1910, this cen­trally-lo­cated shop­house boasts 19 rooms, in­clud­ing three sig­na­ture suites, each of which has been dec­o­rated to a spe­cific vin­tage travel theme.

While at­tract­ing the usual de­mo­graphic of busi­ness and leisure guests on stopovers on "the lit­tle red dot", Wei Siong, di­rec­tor of Ho­tel Nuve Her­itage, tells me that the ho­tel has drawn in a steady flow of “stay­ca­tion” vis­i­tors since it re­opened its doors in early Oc­to­ber.

As this was my first stay­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence, I was in­trigued by the con­cept – I was even slightly scep­ti­cal of this in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar trend which sees you "hol­i­day" while at home. Surely, it could hardly be that much dif­fer­ent to your av­er­age week­end?

As it turns out, I was wrong: It is possible to feel like a trav­eller in your own city, a feel­ing that was un­doubt­edly en­cour­aged by the nau­ti­cal and car­to­graph­i­cal el­e­ments of the Ex­plorer’s Suite. Sense of ad­ven­ture? Tick! With a cav­ernous bath­room, vast four-poster bed, and a com­pli­men­tary mini bar, it would have been quite easy to set­tle in for the af­ter­noon. How­ever, if you’re go­ing to try out be­ing a tourist in your own “back­yard”, you had bet­ter hop to it, and the lo­ca­tion of Ho­tel Nuve Her­itage leaves you spoilt for choice. In Purvis Street alone, you have sev­eral din­ing op­tions, from lo­cal fare to lux­ury cui­sine. There's also a spa and hair sa­lon. In keep­ing with my "hol­i­day" mood, I in­dulged in both.

Feel­ing re­ju­ve­nated and some­what im­proved, I ven­tured a bit fur­ther for an early evening drink at a rooftop bar, fol­lowed by a wan­der through nearby Haji Lane. Not want­ing to ne­glect my plush home-for-a-day, I capped off the evening with a soak in the suite's im­mense tub. The com­pli­men­tary mini bar may have been sub­jected to a bit of sam­pling, too.

While the in-house café will only open early this year, the tem­po­rary break­fast host next door serves up an am­ple spread to kick-start the day.

Ho­tel Nuve Her­itage mar­ries com­mu­nity-style hos­pi­tal­ity with oo­dles of lo­cal charm, invit­ing even the most fa­mil­iar guest to re­dis­cover all that Sin­ga­pore has to of­fer.

Chi­nese farmer He Meixia, 26, pol­li­nates a pear tree by hand in Hanyuan County, Sichuan Prov­ince, China

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